Tomas Villarreal, center, Cheer Athletics' Wildcats, early 2000s
Those who know him call Tomas Villarreal a walking encyclopedia of everything cheer.
If that’s so, then this book’s cover is shiny and bright.
Spend more than ten minutes speaking with the creator of Cheer Analyst, and you’re left feeling as upbeat as he is about the future of competitive cheer: full of joy and optimism.
Maybe that’s because he’s not only a student of All Star cheer history, Tomas was an athlete at competitive cheer's very beginning.
Starting in Pop Warner in Portland, Oregon, it would be four more years before the first Cheerleading Worlds would be held and where Tomas would compete on one of the most decorated teams at one of the best elite gyms in the world: Cheer Athletics Wildcats. In 2000, he was in the sixth grade when he watched the movie Bring It On and says now that he knew right away that “I’d be in cheerleading.”
“I’d played around with every sport in elementary school but at 11, I hadn’t found my thing yet,” he says.
“While I loved the glamour (in the movie), I was very competitive and it was the insane athleticism that got me.”
He credits the foundations of Pop Warner with providing a great understanding and appreciation for the strength, repetition, precision and hard-work that goes into cheer.
"I think all athletes need to go through Cheerleading 101; the fundamentals of motion placement, awareness of where things are or should be," Tomas says. "Arms sharp and then strong, in a High V, Low V and Candlesticks. The stupid things that still work like holding a Chunkees' soup can, arms outstretched for 20 seconds after doing motions and the coach coming by each athlete and trying to push their arms down."
When he was in the 8th grade, HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbal did a segment about an up and coming sport called All Stars.
"I was devastated that we weren't doing double-full-baskets," he recalls. "Why weren't we doing all those things that are so fundamental? I said 'I’m going to move to Texas to be on Cheer Athletics.'"
But first he cheered on the high school squad and joined the local All Star gym West Coast Extreme. Now called Oregon Dream Teams, its present owners Dan and Tori Cotton were athletes on its Open team while Tomas was on the senior team.
It was then that Tomas started watching, documenting, chronicling, converting and collecting all the who, what, when, where and how of All Star cheer. He would teach himself to edit videos of routines, sent to him by his growing group of friends on teams all over the country. With transitions, replays and graphics, his first fully edited video would be his try-out demo for Cheer Athletics in the Spring of his junior year. Owners said it was a stand-out among the other tapes the gym received, not just because of his athleticism but for the production value of the DVD.
In 2006, Tomas would become one of the first All Star athletes to move to another state to cheer when he earned a spot on CA Wildcats.
"It was an amazing feeling but people thought I was insane," he recalls. "No one knew if we would every grow to be the sport that would ever be that big that kids would move across the country, no matter how good the sport was."
It was around this time Tomas realized there were no statistics, nothing archived, for All Stars.
"Everyone was so busy, time was flying by and no one was documenting these early years," he says. "So today there are no statistics. That's absurd to me. It's like if you and I were saying, 'Have you heard of Babe Ruth?' or if a sports commentator wanted to figure out where Koby Bryant went to school, who all his coaches were, he wouldn't be able to."
No matter what All Star is today, Tomas says, athletes like Maddie Gardner were professional athletes yet no one was keeping track.
"At 17-years old, I realized if someone doesn't stop and document things, some day all the work that went into starting All Stars will be lost. So I did it," he said.
“Plus, I’m anal retentive," he says. "I can reference anything and everything about this sport. All the winners of NCA, UCA and all the big Nationals from the beginning. And not just its history but the details of whose going to win today, which teams are in what region. Everything about this sport, the details determine whose going to win. But it was all in my head."
He didn't have a name for it, but he created a personal archive that includes more than two decades worth of routines and data that was less of a hobby than a labor of love. He was collecting everything and with a growing reputation for accuracy, coaches started sending him videos of routines. By now a coach himself and a judge for many cheer competitions, Tomas provided them with a 60-page critique at no charge.
Even after leaving the world of competitive cheer at 19 years-old and by 22 the top insurance salesmen at his company, Tomas never left All Stars as a fan.
"Ever since becoming a Wildcat, I've never missed going to NCA once, it's that important to me," he said. "I was at Cheer Athletics (for Blue Debut) last weekend. It was like a homecoming but more than that, it was a chance to meet the next generation of athletes."
Just as many other careers were changed by COVID, Tomas' company's lay-offs gave him the opportunity to turn his labor of love into something that would benefit everyone in the cheer industry: parents, coaches but most of all athletes.
"I don’t care what uniform you're wearing; that’s not what matters," he says. "I’m about the cheerleader, the athleticism, the overall package."
One year ago, at 11:11 am on 11/11, with the goal of being an independent voice able to analyze cheerleading and ensure that athletes of today know who the athletes that created this sport are, Tomas launched Cheer Analyst with the first-ever countdown of the Top 10 All Star Gyms of the 2000s . The debut would receive a quick 14K views and was followed by a regular flow of videos ever since.
Some of the OGs of All Stars celebrate Cheer Analyst's one year anniversary with Tomas (popping the champagne cork center): From left to right are MaKenzi Dauwe, Madison Hisaw, Logan Sherrill, Jamie Andries, Reagan West, Maddie Hayes, Mallori Schick, Andrew Mitchell, Chelsea Kourkanakis.
Although these athletes are the ones everyone watched, the ones who made All Stars what it is today, their credentials would be lost forever if not for remaining in the cheerleading vault that is Tomas' memory. Asked for credentials and he whipped out their names, teams, titles and important other information in minutes.
MaKenzi (Swicegood) Dauwe: First ever World Champion, Panther alum, Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader alum, NCA Grand Champion,
Maddie Swicegood: Wildcats alum, OU cheer alum, coached CA KittyKatz to its first national title of current streak 1/10, NCA champion.
Maddie Hayes: NCA Champion, Worlds Champion, NCA college champion, Navarro alum, Kentucky alum, most recognized for her time on IASF's Team USA
Logan Sherrill: owner of Imagine Choreography, world champion coach (prodigy black light) and athlete (ca wildcats)
Mallori Johnson: Won on CA Jags when they went from junior to senior and beat Stingrays Orange
Chelsea Boleyn: World Champion, NCA Grand Champion
Andrew Mitchell: NCA collegiate Grand Champ
"It's like everything had led to this point," he says. "My obsession with All Stars, collecting data and videos of routines, watching what was happening 24 years ago and remembering it as if it was just yesterday, my tryout DVD that got me on Wildcats, even going into sales and having a career that was not in the cheer industry, it all contributed to the creation of Cheer Analyst."
Identified as "the most educated producer of reference online video content of Top 10 Lists, origins, history, commentary and more on all things cheer, Cheer Analyst is your trusted authority on ranking the sport of cheerleading."
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